Colo. House Passes "Slowpoke" Driver Bill

Slow drivers, watch out. The Colorado House today passed the "slowpoke driver" bill.

House Bill 1042 would require drivers who are traveling below the speed limit with five or more cars backed up behind them to pull over at the first safe opportunity. They also can travel in the right-hand lane on two lane roads.

This just gives the cops another reason to stop motorists. And what if it's snowing or icy out? I always drive at a snail's pace when it's snowing or icy.

One criticism I think is far-fetched:

Lawmakers worried aloud Wednesday about leaving tanker trucks on the side of the road vulnerable to terrorist plots.

Like we've had so many of those here. It's far more likely wildlife will be killed crossing the highway. Friday, 16 elk were killed crossing I-70 as a result of a traffic accident.

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    Weird. (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by roy on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:26:23 PM EST
    1. If you can count the number of cars "backed up" behind you, you're spending too much time looking in your rear-view mirror instead of watching where you're going.
    2. The speed limit is supposed to be a maximum, not a minimum.  I know nobody treats it like that in practice, but muddling it in law puts drivers in an untenable situation.  Let's say you have five cars behind you in a 45mph zone.  Driving 45.1 is illegal.  Now driving 44.9 is illegal too.  So in practice, it will come down to police discretion, which was already the case.  I guess they want fewer citations thrown out, so they made even safe and reasonable driving illegal.
    3. If you have more than five people behind you, that means the person directly behind you has at least five behind him.  Is he required to pull to the side if you don't?

    Hmm (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by Steve M on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:01:53 PM EST
    This strikes me as the sort of bill that gets written after some legislator gets stuck behind a slow driver on the way home.

    Setting that aside, if someone is puttering along on one of those country roads, it's certainly safer for them to pull over and let people pass as opposed to forcing 5 drivers to use the oncoming lane to pass...

    Yep. (none / 0) (#15)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 11:30:55 AM EST
    Rep. Merrifield saw a similar law in action on a visit to Alaska where RV's are common - and slow - but required to make way.  Last summer, when he was driving over Colorado's Monarch Pass and became one of dozens of vehicles stuck behind an RV which did not pull over, he thought he'd bring the idea home.

    Is this (none / 0) (#1)
    by JamesTX on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:15:23 PM EST

    ...tanker trucks on the side of the road vulnerable to terrorist plots.

    Like we've had so many of those here.

    I think I understand how such people get to where they are. Americans are too busy working their asses off to check the mental health history of the people they elect to state legislatures. What I don't understand is that somebody actually cuts these people a paycheck, right? Wouldn't a responsible public servant blow the whistle?

    actually, on interstates, (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:33:40 PM EST
    there is a minimum speed, usually 45, at least in va.

    that said, i should think you'd be thrilled jeralyn, secure in the knowledge that your state legislature has attended successfully to every other issue before it, and had time left over to deal with this non-solution in search of a problem.

    my hat is off to the fine gov't of CO!

    We're kind of waiting... (none / 0) (#4)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:54:35 PM EST
    ...on the Gov to present his recommendations to the Joint Budget Committee tomorrow to get down to the serious task of trying to deal with the effects of TABOR and keeping the government afloat.  

    In the meantime, the wingnuts are busy wetting themselves over a "terrorist network between Kabul and Colorado" (SuperMax) and unattended tanker-trailers on the side of the road.

    And yes, we do have minimum speed limits.  Everyone who's ever been stuck behind some oblivious idiot pulling his 30 foot RV up a twisting, two-lane, 20% grade mountain road understands what this new law is all about.  It used to be common decency for such people to pull-over, but sadly, those days are gone.  Still, it is a bit "nannyish"...

    There are so many cars on the road, (none / 0) (#6)
    by Anne on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:28:04 PM EST
    that the least people can do is recognize that failure to keep moving at a consistent rate of speed is what leads to phantom traffic jams, which makes people cranky - or psychotic - and impatient, which makes them take risks, which inevitably causes an accident, which turns the phantom jam into a real one.

    Those who are not comfortable on the highway should take the surface streets, where stopping and starting and slower speeds are the norm.

    Unfortunately, it seems to be not so much the people nervous about highway driving that are the problem, but the people talking on the phone, or texting, and who are in some other world where no one else matters.

    Not sure I like the Colorado law, though - who the heck is going to monitor the 5-cars-behind-someone rule?  Heck, can anyone remember the last time they were on the road when there weren't 5,000 cars behind them?

    I was almost hit yesterday (none / 0) (#7)
    by Spamlet on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:13:24 PM EST
    on the freeway because of a slowpoke (about 35 mph) creating a dangerous situation in one of those spots where drivers who are exiting have to share a lane with drivers who are merging. I'd like to see such drivers ticketed. They're a menace.

    This particular law (none / 0) (#8)
    by NYShooter on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:56:44 PM EST
    May be a little goofy, but the problem of slow drivers is real.

    When I was learning to drive, many, many years ago, "keep to the right, except when passing" was indelibly branded into our heads. Haven't you noticed how today, as soon as a driver, usually elderly, enters a highway, he/she immediately whips into the left (passing) lane.......and stays there. They're not passing, just cruising along, and usually below the prevailing speed most other drivers are doing.

    One by one, all the  "rules of the road" have passed into oblivion: turn signals (BEFORE turning,} tailgating, lights on during rain, parking lights during dusk driving, interpreting "yield" signs as "floor it!," ditto for orange traffic lights, and the aforementioned left lane driving.

    The last one is especially dangerous, as highway experts have told us that "changes" during driving are what's dangerous, not necessarily higher, but steady, speed. With the left lane drivers, hundreds of cars are compelled to pass on the right, which as everyone knows, is very dangerous.

    I think the reason so many elderly folks drive in the left lane has to do with the fact that they can look down to the left, and see the edge of the road better than if they were driving in the right lane and have to depend on peripheral vision to guess how close they are to the right shoulder.

    Hell, I'm happy (none / 0) (#9)
    by Spamlet on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:21:56 PM EST
    when drivers, elderly or not, manage to choose a lane rather than straddling two.

    Heh! (none / 0) (#10)
    by NYShooter on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 12:52:03 AM EST

    Slowpokes in the left lane.... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 09:22:43 AM EST
    are undoubtedly a hazard, and common sense should dictate that they move to the right when traffic backs up behind them...unfortunately so many seem to lack common sense and consideration.

    That being said...it is another bad law that will only be used to rack up fines for the state by harassing people.

    Some inconveniences, hassles, and dangers are unavoidable if you want to live free from mercenaries impeding your travel at gunpoint....and I certainly want and enjoy that freedom.


    Yup.... (none / 0) (#17)
    by NYShooter on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 04:15:35 PM EST
    and that's why I prefaced my remarks with ".....this law.may be a little goofy."

    Washington State beats Colorado :-( (none / 0) (#11)
    by Erehwon on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 06:42:31 AM EST
    Well, when I lived in Washington State years ago, I used to such traffic signs on US 101 that stated more or less the same thing. Check out this Commercial Driver's License test question. I always assumed it applied to all slow drivers, but someone else can educate us!

    I think California has this law too (none / 0) (#14)
    by ruffian on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 09:58:12 AM EST
    or did when I lived there nearly 20 years ago. Even if the police don't enforce it, it does at least make people aware that they should pull their RV over if they are blocking 20 cars on a 2 lane highway.

    I just hope that (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jen M on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 09:44:57 AM EST
    there are places to pull over provided.

    And what if it's snowing or icy out? (none / 0) (#16)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 11:42:53 AM EST
    And what if it's snowing or icy out? I always drive at a snail's pace when it's snowing or icy.
    If there is bad weather or no place to pull off safely, they would not be subject to the $56 ticket or points off their license.

    CA has had "Slowpoke" Driver... (none / 0) (#18)
    by cwolf on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 12:41:08 PM EST
    ... law since Pharaoh ruled:

    Turning Out of Slow-Moving Vehicles
    21656.  On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving vehicle, including a passenger vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout by signs erected by the authority having jurisdiction over the highway, or wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the vehicles following it to proceed. As used in this section a slow-moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.
    Amended Ch. 448, Stats. 1965. Effective September 17, 1965.

    I live at the summit of a mountain road and have never , ever seen or heard about this section being enforced.

    Out here, it is as close to a nullity as a law can be.